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NEW YORK — A 68-year-old Sri Lankan man was riding the subway in lower Manhattan on Friday (March 19) when another passenger yelled a racial slur and punched him in the head, leaving him bloodied and in critical condition.rr
On Saturday morning, a 66-year-old man of Asian descent was punched in the face on the Lower East Side.rr
Then Sunday came three more attacks, the police said: A woman of Asian descent was thrown to the ground in Midtown, another was hit in the face with a metal pipe on the Lower East Side and a third was punched twice in the face after she attended a demonstration in Union Square in support of Asian American victims with her young daughter.rr
The attacks around New York City over the weekend, coming as hundreds of marchers gathered in multiple protests to call for an end to such assaults, were yet more examples of violence directed at Asian Americans amid a new wave of xenophobia that emerged during the pandemic.rr
The assaults underscored the feelings of fear and vulnerability that had taken hold in the Asian American community, even before a shooting in the Atlanta area last week left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent.rr
Ms Katie Hou, 37, who is Chinese American and was attacked Sunday afternoon after she went to the demonstration in Union Square, said in an interview that she was recovering and hoped her encounter would not scare other Asian American people from speaking out.rr
“People need to be vigilant about their safety, but at the same time, we need to do something to stop this from happening again,” she said.rr
The police said they were investigating at least five different attacks that took place between Friday and Sunday, and three people have been arrested in connection with three of them.rr
But much is still not known about the victims or the attackers, at least two of whom appeared to be behaving erratically before the incidents.rr
In the assault on the subway, the man who was arrested, Marc Mathieu, posted a long, rambling video on Facebook the morning of the attack, in which he spoke unintelligibly about violent security forces working at the Staten Island Ferry, among other disjointed topics.rr
The man who attacked the woman after the demonstration Sunday pulled down his pants and exposed himself to witnesses and yelled at passersby, telling them they were going to jail, according to one witness of the attack.rr
Both of those cases are being investigated as hate crimes, the police said. But the criminal justice system has faced challenges in definitively proving racist motives in apparent anti-Asian crimes. Some advocates have pointed to shortcomings in the laws that govern hate crimes.rr
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, during an interview with Pix11 on Thursday before the recent attacks, said the department was investigating 10 anti-Asian hate crimes reported through mid-March, compared to none in early 2020 before the pandemic reached New York.